A Distant Center

A Distant Center

In the bold tradition of the “Misty Poets,” Ha Jin confronts China’s fraught political history while paying tribute to its rich culture and landscape. The poems of A Distant Center speak in a voice that is steady and direct, balancing contemplative longing with sober warnings from a writer who has confronted the traumas of censorship and state violence. With unadorned lang...

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Title:A Distant Center
Author:Ha Jin
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Edition Language:English

A Distant Center Reviews

  • J.D. Dehart

    Ha Jin offers us poems of travel, place, and memory in A Distant Center. The book is divided into meditations on travelers, time, home, and far away places. Poignantly, we are left with what Jin calls "a quiet center."

    The collection begins with words of advice in "You Must Not Run in Place," complete with don'ts and betters. In "The Long-Distance Traveler," Jin describes the plight of the traveler. Daily life takes center stage in "An Ideal Life," revealing thoughts and personal prognostications

    Ha Jin offers us poems of travel, place, and memory in A Distant Center. The book is divided into meditations on travelers, time, home, and far away places. Poignantly, we are left with what Jin calls "a quiet center."

    The collection begins with words of advice in "You Must Not Run in Place," complete with don'ts and betters. In "The Long-Distance Traveler," Jin describes the plight of the traveler. Daily life takes center stage in "An Ideal Life," revealing thoughts and personal prognostications: "You don't need to live so hard/you don't need to carry on your bloodline." This is a back and forth dialogue of the self.

    Of the many poems worthy of attention, I will finally mention "The Cage," in which a simple object is given powers and personhood, with the final focus of the poem again tapping into memory, reflection, and experience. A Distant Center is finely-crafted verse and invites readers to journey into places near and far away.

  • Jenny (Reading Envy)

    Ha Jin moved to the United States from China in 1985, and wrote these poems in English, but they do feel like they are of more than one place, or maybe sometimes no place (in a way I really liked.) Some are motivational, like some of my favorites from Mary Oliver, where the poet is speaking directly to the reader, reminding them to have space and acceptance. They might be good as part of a mindfulness practice, whether or not that was how they were intended.

    My favorites:

    -The Long-Distance Trave

    Ha Jin moved to the United States from China in 1985, and wrote these poems in English, but they do feel like they are of more than one place, or maybe sometimes no place (in a way I really liked.) Some are motivational, like some of my favorites from Mary Oliver, where the poet is speaking directly to the reader, reminding them to have space and acceptance. They might be good as part of a mindfulness practice, whether or not that was how they were intended.

    My favorites:

    -The Long-Distance Traveler

    "Keep going: the farther you go,

    the smaller you grow

    in the eyes of those

    who can't walk anymore...."

    -Talent

    "...Keep in mind your talent also includes patience and endurance.

    Get up, move quietly, and leave all the clamor behind."

    -Acceptance

    "...You must learn to be content

    to inhabit your own space -

    news from far away

    can no longer disturb you..."

  • Mills College Library

    811.54 J617d 2018

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